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EU Takes Legal Action Against Poland Over Controversial Judicial Reforms

European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans

The European Union has launched legal action against Poland’s government over a controversial new law that could undermine the independence of the country’s courts and give the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) too much influence over them.

The commission said in a July 29 statement that it has sent a letter of formal notice to Warsaw following the publication of the law in Poland.

The EU took issue with the law because it introduced different retirement ages for female and male judges, which is a breach of EU antidiscrimination laws.

“The new rules allow the minister of justice to exert influence on individual ordinary judges through, in particular, the vague criteria for the prolongation of their mandates, thereby undermining the principle of irrevocability of judges," the European Commission said in its statement.

The statement said Poland’s right-wing government had one month to respond to the commission's concerns.

Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans sent a letter on July 28 to Poland's foreign minister reiterating an invitation to him and the justice minister to meet in Brussels to relaunch dialogue.

Timmermans said on July 26 that the commission could trigger Article 7, a legal process of suspending Poland's EU voting rights, if Warsaw went ahead with plans to undermine the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and dpa